Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Core Truths by Lisa Fox - Book Tour

Core Truths

Core Truths is Lisa Fox's debut collection of 18 speculative short stories that explore the quintessential values driving our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Each tale culminates in a character's pivotal moment, the one that changes them forever. Sometimes their journey leads toward a rare epiphany or a beautiful resolution. But not every ending is happy.


This assortment of science fiction, fantasy, and horror features robots and androids, biologists and metallurgists. Witches, vampires, sea elves and other mythical creatures traverse these pages along with ordinary humans living under extraordinary circumstances.


All the characters in this collection confront hard truths. When a father and son encounter someone forbidden to exist, they must decide whether extending a kindness is worth risking their lives. Hand-picked by her deceased father to undertake an impossible mission, a young girl realizes that sometimes to be a hero, one needs to be a villain. A scientist from a dying planet is forced to weigh the value of one individual life against the lives of many; a scientist from Philadelphia finds his sanity challenged upon making a remarkable discovery. An ancient being questions the validity of doctrine. A clone questions what it means to be human.


As speculative literary fiction, these narratives glean their energy from the fantastical. Written to shine a light on the world, each story in this anthology is intended to make us think about who we are as people, about those Core Truths that govern the lives we choose to live.


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Excerpt from “Don’t Blink”
I wrote this piece after my husband and I visited the Cape May Zoo without our two boys. It’s a story about time and portals and how the universe can warp into something so completely strange and foreign in the blink of an eye. This excerpt is from the opening section of the story where we meet our main character, a harried mother whose guilt around being a “work hard, play hard” mom is all-consuming, and throughout the piece we see her life moving forward in almost a warp speed.

“Daddy getting popsicles?” you ask. Your tiny hands grasp a toy bear and a toy robot, plastic clicking on plastic in an epic, impossible battle.

Where is Todd? What could be taking him so long?

“Soon, buddy. Daddy will be here soon with your popsicle.”

We stop at an empty bench, and I squirm myself out of the drenched backpack.

“Blue! Blue popsicle!” you sing.

You’d asked him for red—loudly. Unequivocally. Fearing a tantrum that would terrify both human and animal alike, I dial my husband’s cell.

No answer.

Of course. He’s probably checking his stocks, or his fantasy baseball stats. Why would he use a phone as a phone?

“Daddy will get whatever they have. Remember, you get what you get—”

I turn your stroller toward me. Before I can finish my sentence, I notice your left foot. Bare. Without your Spiderman sandal.

… And you don’t get upset.

“Aw, bud, you lost your shoe. We just bought those!”

I feel the sigh rise from my core; a lone bubble of oxygen pushed from the depths, reminding me to breathe.


You stop playing, still gripping your toys, and glance up at me, the twinkle in your big blue eyes a bastion of mischief. Shrugging your shoulders, you giggle, and I can’t help but smile, too. This… this is the easy part of parenthood. I tickle your belly; you wriggle beneath my fingertips, your laughter a melody played at my touch. I forget about shoes and ice pops, sweat and sunburn, and in that moment, it’s just you and me swallowing a moment of joy with a gusto that makes our eyes water.

“Missing something?” An old woman shuffles toward us, cane in one hand, your sandal in the other. I wipe the tears from my cheeks and offer her a smile as you resume playing.

“Oh! He must have dropped it as we were walking.”

Wistful, the woman glances from you to me as she offers your shoe. Her gaze settles over us, soft as fleece in winter, yet with a depth so familiar it’s as if I’m staring into a mirror.

“Don’t blink,” she says, resting her cold palm on my blazing shoulder. I wince at her touch, at once comforting and jarring, and can’t help but notice the way her gold wedding band cinches the loose skin of her knobby fingers. Her hand is liver-spotted, its tremor like an ancient tree limb disturbed by a scampering squirrel.

“Thank you,” I reply. Without another word, she turns from us. Her heavy footfalls crunch in the gravel path; a pained effort plagues every step as she ambles toward the zoo’s exit. I listen and I stare until a quiet distance separates us, and the old woman vanishes.

I secure your errant shoe and stand, my legs wobbly and slick in the afternoon sun. A tingle of cold heat stretches from my eyebrows up to my hairline, setting my temples aflutter as the odd summer shiver tugs across my head like a snug cap.

“Looks like we’re back in business.”

I steady myself on your stroller; you gaze at me with those wide eyes and smile.


“Let’s go look at the bears while we wait for Daddy.”

“Your favorite,” you say, pronouncing the word as fayvwit.

Once again, I secure the bag to my back and push us forward, leaning on the stroller’s handles for support. From a distance, I see a momma bear skulk through the tall grass of the American Brown Bear exhibit, tips of green brushing her fur. Her baby pushes its nose against her back legs as they walk together, in step and slow, always touching, always near.

As we approach them, the summer haze shimmers ahead, the atmosphere around us wavering and blurred as if rising from a grill. I blink, hard, and step through the distortion, mother bear and baby both dark brushstrokes on an impressionist canvas, and glance down as your stroller, and you, are sucked into the warped summer afternoon air…

… and my feet crunch decaying leaves as a curt autumn breeze slaps the gooseflesh up through my skin. I shiver in my jeans and tee shirt, tug at the sweatshirt tied around my waist and pull it over my head, huddling inside it.

Four brown bears trudge through the leaves in the exhibit ahead, side by side at first and then branching out—one ambling toward a rock enclosure, one toward a grassy knoll at the far end. Still another lopes toward the observers who are clad in jackets and sweaters and hats. The crowds are sparse, even for a chilly day and I can’t help but wonder why surgical masks cover some of the children’s faces. Their expressions linger, empty yet suspicious, as if expecting some predator to sidle over them at any moment and suck away their joy.

And the fourth bear, the largest, she sits, staring at me—into me—with big, sad eyes, as if she knows something, understands something I have yet to comprehend.


Author Bio –  Lisa Fox is a pharmaceutical market researcher by day and fiction writer by night. She thrives in the chaos of suburbia, residing in New Jersey (USA) with her husband, two sons, and Double-Doodle puppy. Her work has been featured in Dark Matter, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Metaphorosis, New Myths, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and Luna Station Quarterly, among other journals and anthologies. Lisa has had work nominated for the Pushcart Prize and for Best Small Fictions and is a previous winner of the NYC Midnight Short Screenplay competition. You can find Lisa and her published work via her website: lisafoxiswriting.com or on Twitter @iamlisafox10800.


Social Media Links –


Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamlisafox10800

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lisafoxiswriting/

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